Google Adsense are testing new ad formats that allow publishers to have greater control over how many ads are show and what the overall size of the ad block is.
The other day when a few of us were analyzing the Adsense performance of Dogster and Catster it struck me that something was a little odd about the Adsense advertisements on those sites. (update: the Catster ads have been removed – but the Dogster ones remain at this point)
It didn’t hit me straight away what was different but after going back a few times in the days since I’ve realized what it is – they are in a format that is unlike any other ads I’ve seen on an Adsense publisher’s site before.
I’ve posted a screen capture (from Dogster) to the left and you’ll notice if you look closely and compare it with the ad formats that many of us are familiar with that this ad format is different on a couple of levels.
Firstly there are five ads on it and secondly the size of the overall ad is different.
Of course I wanted to get to the bottom of this and went to the site owner to see what they’d tell me. I asked if they were a premium publisher (who get some special treatment from Google for such things). They politely refused to comment. On reflection I realized that this would not be the case as Ted previously mentioned his traffic levels and they were not in the vicinity of what premium publishers need to do to get that treatment.
I also asked if they were trailing a new ad format. The answer again was no comment. As you’d expect from testers of Adsense publishers involved in testing a new ad format would not be at liberty to speak about the tests.
This did not deter me – I began to surf a few other sites that I suspected Google use as test sites and found a variety of new shapes and sizes of ad formats. Again I asked questions and after talking to a few hit the jackpot with one publisher who agreed to share what they knew as long as I didn’t reveal who they are.
Here’s the scoop. Adsense are testing a system where by the publisher not only chooses from a number of prescribed ad formats (as we currently do) but where they themselves are able to determine:
1. the ad format size
2. the number of ads to be shown in this space
This is an interesting development because it allows publishers to have much greater control over the design of ads and the integration of them into their sites. It would give real freedom to publishers to find the very best position on their site without needing to completely rearrange their site’s design to accommodate them.
There is no word of when such a system might actually go live but as far as I can see they are testing it in a number of places which could mean that it is sooner than later.
Update: Let me reinforce – the digging I’ve done is with a number of sites – some of them smaller bloggers – non premium bloggers. This leads me to SUSPECT that they are testing this for other non premium sites. This is a best guess/assumption/speculation/non factual statment. Time will tell whether my sources have the whole picture and if my deductions are on the money – but I’m hoping they are.
Let me know what you think of this possibility in comments below.